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REVEALED: Zonal Intervention Projects: No contractor is being owed by SMEDAN

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The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) says there is no contractor being owed by the agency after executing the Zonal Intervention Programmes otherwise called Constituency Projects nationwide.

Dr. Dikko Radda,  Director-General, SMEDAN made this known on Wednesday in Abuja at a roundtable meeting with the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was organised by the Transparency Advocacy for Development Initiative (TADI).

The aim was to assess the performances of Small and Medium Enterprise and Engendering Understanding/Cooperation for Optimum Output in Nigeria.

It was also aimed at letting the CSOs understand SMEDAN’s activities and clarify misconceptions on the roles of SMEDAN, vis-a-vis the Zonal Intervention Programmes and rural empowerment projects.

Radda said the programmes were being executed by the agency on behalf of the National Assembly Members across the country.

He further noted that the agency was executing and monitoring the project in collaboration with Ministry of Special Duties of which it received clearance from before any payment.

”Since I assumed office in 2016, there is no contractor who is being owed after executing the project unless there are issues which is not our fault but that of the contractor.

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“We do not owe any contractor because we do not award any contract which we do not have availability of the fund in our account, if you give us 50 per cent, we award 50 per cent,’’ he said.

Radda said the meeting was apt because the agency was gradually rounding up the 2020 programme and also preparing to begin activities for the 2021 capital and zonal intervention projects, as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said it was pertinent to understand that the National Assembly members were at liberty to domicile their constituency projects in any government organisation or agency they desired.

According to him, they also reserve the right to confirm the satisfactory completion or otherwise of the project before payments are made by the agency.

‘’Let me state categorically that all projects domiciled with the agency are usually executed fully before payments are effected

 

The agency has several levels of monitoring and evaluating all projects and this makes it impossible to get paid for projects not executed Very impossible.

‘’I will like to state it very categorical and clear, there is no fear or contradiction since March 2016 when I came to SMEDAN, I have never begged any member of the National Assembly to bring his zonal intervention to SMEDAN,’’ he said.

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As the agency for the sustainable development of MSMEs, he said SMEDAN had ensured frequent deployment of skilled personnel in the implementation of either its capital programmes or zonal intervention programmes.

Prior to this engagement, he said the agency had been inundated with requests for information and petitions bordering on capital expenditures and execution of constituency projects.

“It is unfortunate that often times, unconfirmed negative and damaging information are released to the media without proper investigation.

“In view of the foregoing, we deemed it necessary to hold periodic interactive session. Our doors are wide open for periodic clarifications on any issue that some of you are in doubt,’’ he noted.

Earlier Amb Yomi Daniel, Executive Director, TADI said the visit was prompted by speculations in the society about SMEDAN’s activities, hence it decided to engage other CSOs by organising the roundtable to tackle it.

Daniel said his organisation had an interface with SMEDAN, and was able to get things right and decided to interact with other CSOs and media to pass the message properly in the society.

“In that vein, we believe by bridging the bridge within the masses and the government will be a productive one, so as to avert crises and unwanted stories in the media,’’ he said.

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Mr Mike Femi, President, Advocacy for Peace and Transparency Initiative, lauded the management of SMEDAN on its efforts in executing many projects across the country.

Femi explained that his organisation was focused on having interaction with government organisations on its activities to inform the public rightly especially on a politically motivated rumour.

Femi, while urging SMEDAN to embark on more campaigns and advocacy to sensitise public on its relevance to Nigeria, added that it should also be right for the public to know the channels for accessing its programmes.

The highlight of the event was the award of Certificate of Credence to the SMEDAN Chief Executive Officer by the CSOs.

 

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Dangote: Cement price from Factories is between N2,450 and N2,510 per Bag, VAT inclusive

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  …says Nigeria price is in line with or lower than prices across the West African coast 

Management of Dangote Cement Plc has clarified that the price of a bag of cement from its factories and plants across Nigeria (as at 12th April, 2021) is N2,450 in Obajana and Gboko, and N2,510 in Ibese inclusive of VAT.

The clarification was made in view of recent insinuations that the company sells cement in Nigeria at significantly higher prices relative to other countries, particularly Ghana and Zambia.

Dangote’s Group Executive Director, Strategy, Portfolio Development & Capital Projects, Devakumar Edwin revealed that, while a bag of Cement sells for an equivalent of $5.

1, including VAT in Nigeria, it sells for $7.2 in Ghana and $5.95 in Zambia ex-factory, inclusive of all taxes. He said that though the company has direct control over its ex-factory prices, it cannot control the ultimate price of cement when it gets to the market. He advised that it is important to distinguish Dangote’s ex-factory prices from prices at which retailers sell cement in the market.

He, therefore, frowned at intentional misinformation or demarketing, allegedly sponsored by some individuals, that Dangote sells its cement at higher prices in Nigeria relative to other African countries at the expense of Nigerians. He described the allegation as false, misleading, and unfounded, while giving the media persons present at the press conference copies of invoices from Nigeria and some other African countries (Cameroun, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Zambia), and urging them to conduct independent investigations on the price of cement across the West African coast.

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Edwin further explained that while Dangote cement has 60% share of the market, other companies have the remaining 40%. DCP has no control over neither the prices charged by other cement manufacturers nor the prices charged by retailers in the markets.

He further explained that “Demand for cement has risen globally as a fallout of the COVID crisis. Nigeria is no exception as a combination of monetary policy changes and low returns from the capital market has resulted in a significant increase in construction activity. To ensure that we meet local demand, we had to suspend exports from our recently commissioned export terminals, thereby foregoing dollar earnings. We also had to reactivate our 4.5m ton capacity Gboko Plant which was closed 4 years ago and run it at a higher cost all in a bid to guarantee that we meet demand and keep the price of Cement within control in the country.”

He said: “Over the past 15 months, our production costs have gone up significantly. About 50% of our costs are linked to USD so the cost of critical components like: gas, gypsum, bags, and spare parts; has increased significantly due to devaluation of the Naira and VAT increase. Despite this, DCP has not increased ex-factory prices since December 2019 till date while prices of most other building materials have gone up significantly. We have only adjusted our transport rates to account for higher costs of diesel, spare parts, tyres, and truck replacement. Still, we charge our customers only N300 – 350 per bag for deliveries within a 1,200km radius. We have been responsible enough not to even attempt to cash in on the recent rise in demand to increase prices so far” he said.

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Cement cheaper in Nigeria than Ghana, Zambia, others ― Dangote Cement

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The management of Dangote Cement Plc has clarified that the price of a bag of cement from its factories and plants across Nigeria (as at 12th April, 2021) is N2,450 in Obajana and Gboko, and N2,510 in Ibese inclusive of VAT.

The Company in a statement stated that the clarification was made in view of recent insinuations that the company sells cement in Nigeria at significantly higher prices relative to other countries, particularly Ghana and Zambia.

Dangote’s Group Executive Director, Strategy, Portfolio Development & Capital Projects, Devakumar Edwin according to the statement revealed that, while a bag of Cement sells for an equivalent of $5.1, including VAT in Nigeria, it sells for $7.2 in Ghana and $5.95 in Zambia ex-factory, inclusive of all taxes.

He said that though the Company has direct control over its ex-factory prices, it cannot control the ultimate price of cement when it gets to the market.

He advised that it is important to distinguish Dangote’s ex-factory prices from prices at which retailers sell cement in the market.

He, therefore, frowned at what he described as intentional misinformation or demarketing, allegedly sponsored by some individuals, that Dangote sells its cement at higher prices in Nigeria relative to other African countries at the expense of Nigerians.

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He described the allegation as false, misleading, and unfounded, while giving the media persons present at the press conference copies of invoices from Nigeria and some other African countries (Cameroun, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Zambia), and urging them to conduct independent investigations on the price of cement across the West African(W/A) coast.

Edwin further explained that while Dangote cement has 60% share of the market, other companies have the remaining 40%.

He further explained that “Demand for cement has risen globally as a fallout of the COVID crisis. Nigeria is no exception as a combination of monetary policy changes and low returns from the capital market has resulted in a significant increase in construction activity.“To ensure that we meet local demand, we had to suspend exports from our recently commissioned export terminals, thereby foregoing dollar earnings.

“We also had to reactivate our 4.5m ton capacity Gboko Plant which was closed 4 years ago and run it at a higher cost all in a bid to guarantee that we meet demand and keep the price of Cement within control in the country.”

 

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Pension assets dropped by N 51.30bn in February – PENCOM

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The total value of pension assets in the country dropped by N51.30 billion in February, the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) has said.

In a figure obtained by Ripples Nigeria from the commission on Sunday, the pension assets dropped from N12.299 trillion in January to N12.247 trillion in February.

The figure was N12.306 trillion in December last year.

However, PENCOM blamed the development on the depreciation in the prices of Fixed Income Securities (FISs).

Fixed-income securities provide investors a return in the form of fixed periodic payments and the eventual return of principal at maturity.

The regulator pointed out that the trading portfolios of the Approved Existing Schemes (AES), Retirement Savings Account (RSA) Funds II & IV and Closed Pension Fund Administrators (CPFA) fluctuated based on the supply and demand of the underlying securities.

It said: “The values of the bonds in the trading portfolios fluctuate based on the supply and demand of the underlying securities as well as the outlook of the financial market.”

Analysis of the fund showed that the bulk of PENCOM’s investment continued to be invested in the Federal Government’s securities.

Despite the decline, the regulator revealed that there was an increase in the number of registered contributors from 9.237 million in January to 9.265 at the end of February.

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